Actual Art

Actual Art

Actual Art is a genre of art that was first named by critic Alfred Frankenstein of the San Francisco Chronicle in a review of Helene Aylon’s work. The name was chosen because the art was "real", but the term "Realism" was already in use to describe a different genre. [ [Frankenstein, Alfred. San Francisco Chronicle, circa 1972] ] Frankenstein described Aylon's work as a genre of art that involves “the self-conscious enlistment of the forces of nature, by artists, toward the completion of their art”. [ [Frankenstein, Alfred. San Francisco Chronicle, circa 1972] ] Collaboration with nature necessarily brings the dimension of time into consideration as an integral component of the artworks, with some requiring many thousands of years for their completion. The artists consider the future of the work to be as important as its present, relinquishing control over the work to nature. ["Fugate-Wilcox's deliberate yielding to the forces over which he has no control measures his awareness of the power of nature." Jonathon Goodman, "Art in America" (Dec. 2000).]


In 1982, the Actual Art Foundation fomed in the Tribeca district of New York City to promote exclusively artists working in the Actual Art genre, and in 1985, obtained its 501-C3 not-for-profit tax-exempt status to fund exhibitions of Actual Art and projects proposed by Actual Artists. The most notable early exhibitions sponsored by the Actual Art Foundation were:

* "It's About Time" at the New York City Gallery in 1983
* "Time Will Tell" at Squibb International, Princeton, NJ in 1984
* "Slow Kinetic Art" at the Wadsworth Athenium, Hartfortd, CT
* "Time Waits..." co-sponsored with Prince Johannes and Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis at their estate in Regsnburg, Germany.

The "Time Will Tell" exhibit was documented in articles appearing in the "New York Times", the "Bergen County Record", the "Princeton Packet", and the "Trentonian" [Lou Cook, "Actual Exhibit at Squibb", "Trentonian", June 4, 1985] .

The headquarters of Actual Art Foundation was also used for an episode of Law & Order circa 1990, featuring Actual Art. Actual Art Foundation lost its Tribeca headquarters in the attacks of 9/11 and created an Art Center at Candlewood Lake in Connecticut [ [] ]

In 1993, Actual Art became the focus of a new gallery, Fvlcrvm, beneath the Guggenheim Museum on Mercer Street in the SoHo district of New York City. Four years later, the gallery moved to 144 Broome Street, also in SoHo, changing its name to Shakespeare's Fvlcrvm. The gallery represented Actual Artists exclusively from 1993 until the effects of the 9/11 attacks caused the gallery to close in January, 2002. Actual Art at Fvlcrvm Gallery was covered by (among others):
*"Where" [Paulette Weiss, “Nathan Slate Joseph at Fvlcrvm Gallery”, "Where", January 1994]
* The "New York Times" [ Vivian Rayner, “Works that Defy the Limitations of Definition, E. Lorenze”, "New York Times", May 29, 1994]
* "Courier Lifestyles" [C. Edwards, “Dirt, Dust, Rust, Smut & Soot”, "Courier Lifestyles", March 6, 1995]
* The "New York Daily News" [B. Bell, “This Painter’s Art is an Actual Blast, Tery Fugate-Wilcox”, "The New York Daily News", March 13, 1995]
* The "New York Post" [G. Neil, “Rust Never Sleeps – It Just Becomes Art”, "New York Post", April 10, 1995]
* "New Yorker" magazine [“Goings on About Town, Fvlcrvm Gallery”, "New Yorker", May 1995]
* "The Royal Gazette", Bermuda [Raymond Hainey, “Dan Dempster at Fvlcrvm Gallery”, "The Royal Gazette", December 12, 1996]
* "The Wall Street Journal" [Erica Schacter, “Don’t Drink the Water, art by Tery Fugate-Wilcox”, "The Wall Street Journal", September 11, 1997 (article about 55 gallon tank of water left to grow masses of algae)]
* The "Gallery Guide Artist’s Spotlight" [ Mark Savitt, “Explosive New Works by Tery Fugate-Wilcox at Fvlcrvm Gallery SoSoHo”, "Gallery Guide Artist's Spotlight", , December 1997]

Shakespeare's Fvlcrvm Gallery became notable in the art world for its outrageous artist-designed ads in "Art Now Gallery Guide" and "Art in America", and for a series of controversial articles in the "Gallery Guide" by gallery owner Valerie Monroe Shakespeare, including “Plaza Plop”, “Artists of the Aughts” and “Shock Schlock”.Fact|date=September 2008 Ms. Shakespeare was also on the cover of "New York Arts Magazine", in which her partially nude picture was reduced to a circle and placed in the center of a Nazi flag, sparking a lawsuit and episode on "Peoples’ Court" in Nov. 2000. The gallery’s shows were also featured on NY1 (grass “paintings” by Maria Ceppe), CNN, (a glass beehive by Robert DuGrenier), CBS, Fox 5, NBC and ABC (art exploded in the street by Tery Fugate-Wilcox on Chinese New Year despite a ban on explosives by Mayor Giuliani). FOX 5’s "Good Day New York" also did its entire show, with Julie Golden, live from Fvlcrvm Gallery on 3/9/95 and the movie "Great Expectations" used Shakespeare's Fvlcrvm Gallery in one of its scenes.


In Actual Art, what future generations will see is programmed into the work, making time an element of the work, as well as space, form or color.Or|date=September 2008 The artists introduce time as a tool in the making of art. Actual Art is about energy; specifically, about the energy and life in the materials.Or|date=September 2008 Words like “decay”, “deterioration” or “destruction” are replaced with “change”.Or|date=September 2008 Tery Fugate-Wilcox is quoted as saying, “The work will last forever, as long as you understand it changes.” [K. Lancion, “Contrarian Gallery gains Cultural Leverage”, "Craine’s Small Business", January 9, 1994] Actual Art moves one to think about ways to work with nature instead of fighting it.Or|date=September 2008 In place of the constant attempts to inhibit materials’ natural tendency to change (to the detriment of the planet), man might be examining and exploiting the inherent qualities of the materials we work with. Actual Artists have a visionary sense of the natural order of the material world.Or|date=September 2008


* Helene Aylon, whose work employing the qualities of linseed oil to “bleed” into patterns or form a “skin”, prompted the naming of the genre by Alfred Frankenstein; Helene Aylon
* Michelle Brody, who suspended living plants in long, hanging tubes of water;
* Maria Ceppi, of Switzerland, grew grass in patterns on canvas, or made paintings of scented soap;

* Gregg Degn, using gunpowder, lead, explosives & fuses to make intricate & evolving paintings & sculpture;
* Dan Dempster, of Bermuda, who took steel drawings beneath the sea, to allow the salt water to etch his drawings into the steel & whose work was reviewed in American Mensa, March 1996;

* Robert DuGrenier, whose glass pieces become part of the trees, as they grow into the sculptures; glass shells house living hermit crabs (CBS News) & glass beehive is home to thousands of bees making wax & honey sculptures, (CNN);

* James Horton, who used the materials of photography as a painting medium.
* Nathan Slate Joseph, of Israel, making gigantic wall pieces of pigmented & galvanized steel that have weathered over many years; Joseph was commissioned to create all of the art, including major indoor & outdoor installations by the King David Dan Hotel in Elat, Israel.
* Yutaka Kobayashi, of Japan, imbedding rust in handmade paper or concrete & stone sculptures;
* Elaine Lorenze, with living plants in concrete;
* David Myers, put lead shot in enclosed, tilting table, making endless patterns;

* Alexia Nikov, of Russia, whose metalic paintings change over time from the effects of patinas & the environment;

* Tony Reason, of England, who works with rust in encaustic on linen;

* Richard Thatcher, encasing uranium, transmuting to lead, in exquisite metal boxes;
* Merrill Wagner, using steel, allowed to rust in patterns, slate & rocks, weathered with pigments;

* Tery Fugate-Wilcox, uses water-soluble paint & rain to make ever-changing painting on canvas;

Called the “Avatar of Actualism” (New York Observer, by Spencer Morgan, Feb. 2005). He uses rain to make paintings of water-soluble paint; shotguns, explosives & lightning; dust in “dust drawings”; metals that oxidize, or diffuse together over thousands of years, the actuality of any material. His work is in the collections of the Guggenheim & Museum of Modern Art in NYC, the Wadsworth Athenium in Hartford, CT, the National Gallery of Australia & a 36 foot sculpture purchased by the City of NY for J. Hood Wright Park, 176th St. NYC, ("Park Gets 36 Foot Silver Wafer," by Jill Gerston,the New York Times, November 16, 1974, p.C6).

Other galleries exhibiting Actual Art include:John Gibson Gallery, (Donald Lipsky & Eve Andree Laramee);Sandra Gehring Gallery, (William Anastasi William Anastasi & Dove Bradshaw Thomas McEvilley)

Other artists generally included in the genre of Actual Art or "Actualism", include:Andy Goldsworthy Andy GoldsworthyAllen SonfistForrest MyersCheryl Safren

Perhaps the most ambitious work of art envisioned by an Actual artist is the San Andreas Fault Sculpture Project, proposed by Tery Fugate-Wilcox, which Actual Art Foundation has committed to sponsoring. This one-acre slab of concrete, 20 feet thick is intended to span the San Andreas Fault, which will rip the artwork in half, with the west half traveling north towards Alaska over the next few million years or so. Articles about this sculpture include, Los Angeles Times Magazine “Tectonics, The Crack-up, Tery Fugate-Wilcox and the San Andreas Fault Sculpture Project” by Michael Walker, 12/3/1995; Syndicated Column, “Actual Art: A Cultural Earthquake” by Tracy Kampel, 1998; Cover Magazine, “Actual Arte Gig: Artist Tery Fugate-Wilcox Talks Tectonic” by Robert Costa, Spring 1997, pg. 48; San Francisco Examiner and Chronical, “Crack in the World” by Alfred Frankenstein, 1/11/76, p.27; & San Francisco Chronicle, 1/9/76, p.23; ArtWeek “The San Andreas Fault”, by Margaret Bartelme, Vol. 6-45, Vol. 7-1, 12/27/75 & 1/3/76; Village Voice Scenes: “A Slab in Time”, by Howard Smith & B. Van Der Horst, 6/30/75, p.16.


References: Books

Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972 by Lucy Lippard, publ. University of California Press, 1973Super Sculpture, New York: by Diana Chicure & Thelma Stevens, publ. Van Nostrand, 1974Natual Phenomenon as Public Monuments by Alan Sonfist, publ. Neuberger Museum Press, 1978Clockwork: Timepieces by Artists, Architects, & Industrial Designer by MIT List Visual Arts, 1989 (Specifically: "In New York City, an internal clock is physically inherent in the materials employed by Fugate-Wilcox in the construction of his many Diffusion Pieces.")Andy Goldsworthy: a Collaboration with Nature, by Andy Goldsworthy, publ. H.N. Abrams, 1990Studio International by Medical Tribune Group, publ. Univ.of Michigan, 1992Mutiny and the Mainstream: Talk that Changed Art, by Judy Seigal, publ. Midmarch Art Press, 1992 (Specifically: " [Lawrence] Alloway included Helene Aylon here, showing two stages of her 'paintings that change in time'.")Time and Materials by Merrill Wagner, publ. University Press, 1994Dan Dempster: Waterworks, 1990 - 1997, by Peter Barton, publ. Peninsula Fine Arts, 1997Originals: American Women Artists, by Eleanor C. Munro, publ. De Capa Press, 2000The Art of Dove Bradshaw: Nature, Change & Indeterminancy, by Thomas McEvilly, publ. Mark Batty Publishing, 2003Art's Prospect: the Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity, by Roger Kimball, publ. Ivan R. Dee, 2003New Practices, New Pedagogies, by Malcolm Miles, publ. Routledge, 2005The Art of Nathan Joseph: Building a Picture, by Michael J. Amy & Marius Kwint, publ. Antique Collectors' Club, 2007Creative Time: 33 years of Public Art in New York, by Anne Pasternak, Michael Brenson, Ruth A. Peltason & Lucy Lippard, publ. Princeton Architectural Press, 2007

External links

* [ Fvlcrvm Gallery]
* [ Shakespeare's Fvlcrvm Gallery]
* [ Actual Art Foundation]

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